06/28/17

Hump Day Humor – 06/28/17

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Humor takes the sting away; it humanizes us; it helps us keep our perspective. Humor enriches us; it educates us; it brings us joy. Humor doesn’t dissolve the pain or make our life any less poignant, but it does help make things more bearable. That’s my philosophy, and I’m happy to share it with you on a weekly basis. I hope that if you enjoy what you see, you will take the opportunity to share it with others.

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05/5/17

That’s Funny!

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Humor takes the sting away; it humanizes us; it helps us keep our perspective. Humor enriches us; it educates us; it brings us joy. Humor doesn’t dissolve the pain or make our life any less poignant, but it does help make things more bearable. That’s my philosophy, and I’m happy to share it with you. I hope that if you enjoy what you see, you will take the opportunity to share it with others.

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04/16/17

10 Comedians Who Make Grief Funny – Part 2

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6. Shalewa Sharpe

I was pretty upset at the world after my mom died. One day at work, a customer complained about me not moving fast enough and I was ready to cuss him out, but my manager said, “Stay calm. Your mother would have wanted you to stay calm.” Um, how the hell did my manager know what my mother would have wanted? My mother once yelled at a stranger for chewing with his mouth open—at Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter. Pretty sure she would have wanted me to slap that customer upside the head and say, “Is that fast enough for you?”

Another NYC-based comedian, Shalewa Sharpe “developed her sly yet goofy style in Atlanta where she was raised,” according to her website. For more insightful, intimate observations, you should check out her album, Stay Eating Cookies.

7. Jenn Welch

“Ugh, it’s been three weeks since my dad died, how am I still single?!”

Jenn Welch was the subject of a recent Washington Post story headlined, “This comedian’s dad died last month. So she added that in her Tinder profile.” Yes, she really did that. In the article, Welch explains that her intent was not to make fun of those that responded: “The joke’s not on the men who respond to her, Welch said. Rather, she’s the punchline. ‘The joke of it is to be that brutally honest about where I am and what I’m going through,’ she said.”

Curious to see what kind of responses she got? We all are. She’s done us all a favor and made an Instagram account where she posts screenshots of her various exchanges. Here are two of my personal favorites:

Of Welch’s peculiar approach to grieving, the Post observed how social media helped her connect with other people in her shoes: “Welch did draw inspiration from social media—specifically from her friend and fellow comedian Ben Wasserman, whose father passed away from cancer two weeks before Welch’s did. “We’ve kind of been grieving together,” Welch said. “He went to town on Facebook with jokes about it… That made me feel more comfortable about being open about what I’m going through as well.”

8. Ben Wasserman

“how bout an all-female reboot of MY DAD”

The joke above is one example of the many statuses that Ben Wasserman has posted on Facebook since his father’s death. Welch wasn’t exaggerating when she said he “went to town”—I can attest to this, being that I am his Facebook friend. A few of his other memorable takes, reacting to Daylight Savings Time and Rachel Maddow’s tax return story, include “oh great first i lose my dad now i lose AN HOUR??” and “wake me up when Rachel Maddow gets a DAD return.”

9. Pete Davidson

“Justin, you know, I lost my dad on 9/11 and I always regretted growing up without a dad. Until I met your dad, Justin. Now I’m glad mine’s dead.”

SNL’s Pete Davidson has been open about his father’s death, on 9/11, throughout his career as a comic. The joke above is hardly about grief, but it was just too good not to include. You should really watch the video, his delivery is on point. Plus, he’s got a phenomenal follow-up joke that I don’t want to spoil for you.

10. Alison Zeidman

“My mom’s single. By default, because my dad died. Yeah… he literally ghosted on her.”

Alison Zeidman is currently a writer for TruTV’s Adam Ruins Everything. She wrote this gem of a joke about her dad, who passed away in 2014. Like others on this list, Zeidman took to social media to express herself at the time. And like Alyssa Limperis, she wrote a satirical article about the grief she was experiencing; A Father’s Day Sale for the Recently Deceased Dad. Both comics have appeared on Calogero’s podcast, which you can listen to right here.

Look for Part 1 HERE!

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04/15/17

10 Comedians Who Make Grief Funny – Part 1

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By Liz Magee

Right up there with the rule of threes, “tragedy + time = comedy” is one of the most trite principles of joke-telling. Although there are exceptions—looking at you, Jeselnik—many comedians are careful when it comes to sensitive material pertaining to death and the grieving process. Comics constantly grapple with the question: How soon is too soon?

I’m from Orlando, Florida. For weeks after the Pulse shooting, a harmless question of “where are you from?” became a sensitive matter. When my response was “Orlando,” my questioners would usually take a moment or two to reassess where the conversation was headed. Some were curious if I knew anybody affected and would ask me outright. Some were quick to change the subject. A seemingly harmless question indirectly led the conversation towards the topic of death; naturally, people dealt with that in different ways.

As a comic myself, I wrote a joke about experiencing this awkward exchange that was happening pretty frequently: “I’m from Orlando. Yeah, it’s weird saying that right now. People are like ‘Where you from?’ And I’m like, ‘9/11.’”

As you can imagine, this joke was hit or miss. It’s hard to make death funny, but I understand why comics would gravitate towards that kind of material. There are those who simply love the challenge—looking at you again, Jeselnik—and then there are those who turn jokes into a sort of therapeutic process, a means of coping with their own grief. Here are ten comedians who are tackling the subject of death and who are, for lack of a better term, killing it.

1. Laurie Kilmartin

“My dad died doing what he did best: growing tumors.”

I think it’s fair to put Kilmartin at the top of this list, since her most recent special was literally titled 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad. In 2014, Kilmartin live-tweeted the painful experience of losing her dad to lung cancer which was the seed of inspiration for her special. 45 Jokes includes documentary footage of her and her family while her father was in hospice care, which give great and grave context to the hilarious 45 jokes that would follow. As Robert Ham observes in his review for Paste, “just as her tweets touched a nerve in the hearts of the people reading them, this hour could offer up the catharsis that someone needs during a tough, terrible time.”

2. Patton Oswalt

“Bruce Wayne saw his parents gunned down in front of him when he was nine and he travels the world and becomes this amazing [crime fighter]… That’s ridiculous—he would have grown up to have been Gotham City’s most annoying slam poet.”

By the end of April, it will have been a year since Patton Oswalt lost his wife Michelle McNamara. Oswalt has been open about his grieving process, talking about it publicly on Twitter and on shows like Conan and The Late Show. In a recent interview with NPR, Oswalt explains that pop culture’s representation of grief is way off—hence the Batman comparison. When referring to superheros specifically, Oswalt elaborates:

…part of their motivation is based on losing someone that they love. Which then of course leads them to travel the world learning martial arts and doing CrossFit and getting really cut… And that’s not been my experience. When you lose someone, you tend to eat Wheat Thins for breakfast and rewatch The Princess Bride about 80 times and not sleep all that well.

The entire interview is eight minutes long—it’s really worth a listen.

3. Chris Calogero

“My best friend and roommate passed away and I am actually the one who found her in out apartment. It was just the worst way any roommate’s told me they don’t want to live with me anymore.”

Roughly two years ago, NYC based comedian Chris Calogero lost his roommate Amy Daulton, also a comedian. I distinctly remember telling that joke at a bar show only a month or so after her passing. I was struck not only by the fact that he was onstage so soon, but by how funny the joke was. I’ve remembered it ever since. Chris now hosts Mourning Coffee, a podcast where he interviews other comedians about their experiences with grief—how it affects their personal lives as well as their comedy.

4. Shane Torres

“It’s interesting, when somebody you know passes away, you get reminded of them in subtle ways after they’re gone, you know. Like you see a picture or you hear a Linda Ronstadt song, or you drive by a little league field they said they’d be at… but the way my father has chosen to haunt me, is to have all of his debt collectors call me.”

In his late night debut on Conan, Shane Torres continues to elaborate on these “hauntings” from his belated father. We’ll get to see more from Shane soon, since it was recently announced that he was one of fourteen comedians selected to record a Comedy Central Half Hour. In the meantime, though, here’s his set from Paste Studios.

5. Alyssa Limperis

“Hardest season to have a dead dad: holiday. Second hardest: tax”

Alyssa Limperis is a NYC-based comedian who has mounted several installments of her one-woman play No Bad Days, about her experience losing her father to brain cancer. Somehow, it’s packed with jokes. (I know because I’ve seen it firsthand.)

In addition to taking to the stage, Twitter and Facebook, Alyssa has written numerous blog posts that serve as a beautifully raw and insightful glimpse of her inner life throughout the grieving process. On Christmas Eve in 2015, her first Christmas without her father, she posted a “Christmas Newsletter”. She prefaces her entry by introducing what was apparently a tradition: “My dad used to write sarcastic Christmas newsletters to humorously highlight the not so great moments of our past year. Luckily for this exercise, 2015 was filled with many of those. In his honor, I wrote one for this year.”

It’s just as funny and sad as you’d expect it to be.

Look for Part 2 tomorrow

Complete Article HERE!

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03/7/17

Hard Luck

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From a bet gone wrong to the man suffocated by BOOBS…these are 8 of the most bizarre cases of people who died during sex

By George Harrison

THESE are the shocking true stories of the unfortunate people who died whilst having sex.

The tragic stories highlight a dangerous side to everyone’s favourite pastime, so remember to take care next time you get your rocks off.

This mountain of X-rated magazines crushed a man to death at his flat in Japan

Crushed by porn stash

One man recently met a sticky end after being crushed by a mountain of pornographic magazines.

The Japanese man, named as 50-year-old Joji, was found six months after his six-tonne stash of porn magazines fell on him.

Cleaners tasked with tidying his neglected flat found that the entire apartment was rammed with the explicit magazines.

It is unknown whether the man, a former car-manufacturer, had died from a heart attack and then fell into a stack of pornography, or whether he was crushed to death by his X-rated collection.

Plunge of passion

In 2007 a couple from Columbia, South Carolina, fell to their deaths after plunging naked from the roof of an office building.

The bodies of Brent Tyler and Chelsea Tumbleston, both 21, were found by a taxi driver in the middle of an otherwise-empty street at 5am.

The couple’s clothes were later found on the roof of a nearby building, where they were believed to have been having a risky outdoor romp before falling from the roof.

One man died after taking enough Viagra to get him through a 12-hour romp

Half-day romp ends in tragedy

A Russian man died in 2009 after completing a 12-hour orgy with female pals, who had bet him over £3,500 that he couldn’t keep going for half a day.

Minutes after completing the bet, mechanic Sergey Tuganov died of a heart attack, which had been caused by the huge quantity of Viagra he had guzzled to prepare him for the task.

A woman was mauled to death by a lion after having sex in the nearby bush

Eaten by a lion after romping in the bush

In 2013, a Zimbabwean news website reported that a couple were attacked by a lion after having sex in the bush.

The big cat killed Sharai Mawera after interrupting the couple, although her unidentified lover managed to run away before he could be killed.

After notifying the police, the male lover, who escaped wearing only a condom, found the woman’s mauled body at the scene of the attack.

Smothered to death by lover’s breasts

Donna Lange, 51, smothered her lover to death inside a mobile home.

The intoxicated woman, from Washington, claimed she didn’t know how the man died, although a witness claimed to have seen her crush his face with her chest.

A Chinese student died of a heart attack after making a donation to a sperm bank

Sperm bank heart attack

A trainee doctor, Zheng Gang, died of a heart attack in 2011 – after over-exerting himself whilst producing a sample at a sperm bank.

The 23-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene of China’s Wuhan University, where he had spent two hours inside a booth, having already visited four times that week.

Policeman cops it during a threesome

A cop died in 2009 when his heart gave out during a threesome – and his wife sued his doctor for not warning him against having sex.

William Martinez, a 31-year-old Atlanta police officer, died whilst having sex with another woman and a male friend.

But his wife won $3 million (£2.4 million) after suing his doctor for not warning him that he had a weak heart, and should avoid strenuous activities.

Death by neo-Nazi roleplay

A sick neo-Nazi roleplaying session ended in tragedy, after 38-year-old Simon Burley died when a sex game with lover Elizabeth Hallam went wrong.

The hanging-enthusiast had a noose fitted around his neck whilst his lover played the part of a Nazi executioner, who hanged him as part of a sex game they were playing.

Unfortunately, the knife she planned to cut him down with was blunt, and the man was left to suffocate to death at his house in Grimsby.

Complete Article HERE!

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08/6/16

I’m a Funeral Director. And Yes, My Stories Are Insane

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By

funeral director

For something that literally happens to everyone, death is a remarkably taboo subject in American culture. It makes some sense, though. Who wants to think about the lights going off permanently, let alone deal with the actual logistics of dying?

That’s why I’m here. I’m a funeral director. I help you with the things you don’t want to deal with. No, it’s not exactly like Six Feet Under. Yes, you have to go to school to be a funeral director, at least in New York State. Everybody always seems surprised when I tell them that — maybe they think any guy selling bootleg Yankees hats off the street could throw on a suit and start handling funerals and grieving families.

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That’s ridiculous, for a lot of reasons. Not only are you dealing with dead bodies, which, beyond being frightening to most people, can also be host to all kinds of diseases, but there’s also the governmental red tape and transactions that could see tens of thousands of dollars changing hands. It’s certainly not a career someone could jump into blindly and excel at… especially given some of the situations I encounter regularly. These are just a few slices of what it’s like to be a New York City funeral director, one of the most overlooked, but essential, careers a person can have.

A normal day is never what YOU think of as a normal day

>For starters, I want to clear something up: every now and then I’ll run into someone who thinks it’s crazy that funeral directors charge money for what we do. It’s not. We do the job that other people can’t or won’t do. We provide a valuable service to the community. We’re not looking to rip you off, we’re just looking to be compensated for the work we do. Most people don’t have to deal with questions about whether they should make money in exchange for working hard, but death can elicit some strange behavior in the living.

My normal workdays are filled with events most people won’t ever experience in their lives. Picking up and tending to dead bodies, dealing with grieving families, taking funerals out to churches and cemeteries. To put it into perspective, remember that day at work when you spilled coffee on your pants and had to walk around with a huge stain all day? Well, my version of that involves throwing out a white shirt I was wearing because body fluid got all over it. The body fluid wasn’t mine. Yeah.

But, just like you, I have massive amounts of paperwork I have to do. After all, a job is a job is a job.

Hopefully you won’t have to attend too many funerals, but if you live long enough you’re almost certainly going to have face the music at least a few times. They’re rarely pleasant (except jazz funerals. Everyone should experience a jazz funeral — that’s how I want to go out.) but they’re a reality, and when you do have to go to one, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make your experience — and the funeral director’s — much better.

There’s no official dress code, but don’t push it

I understand that this nation is experiencing a full “dressing-down revolution,” but let’s evaluate. If you’re a male family member, a suit is almost a must. If you can’t wrangle a suit, slacks and a button-down are acceptable, but try not to dip below that. Polos are borderline and T-shirts are damn near disrespectful. I saw a guy walk into my place wearing an Angry Birds shirt, jorts, and Crocs. You’re going to a funeral, not a taping of Monday Night Raw. Put some effort in.

As for the ladies, just look nice. You have a few more options than the guys, but make sure it’s nothing too crazy, and NO JEANS. I swear I once had a lady walk in for a wake wearing a bikini and a cover-up that didn’t quite “cover up.” I assure you that anything you can wear to the beach isn’t appropriate to wear while standing in front of a casket. You don’t have to be a MENSA member to understand this.

Funerals are not the time or place for a buffet

In New York, we can’t have food in the funeral home. This isn’t just our rule, it’s also the New York State Board of Health’s rule. Food attracts bugs, vermin, and other unwelcome guests into funeral homes. We know this. The Board of Health knows this. The sign in our lobby is there so you know it.

This doesn’t mean “all food except the three dozen donuts and a box of coffee.” This isn’t Golden Corral. You should be able to handle going two or three hours without food — it’s why most wake times are split up, so you have a couple of hours for dinner in between.

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One day somebody tried to bring in four pizzas and a case of beer for a wake. I was tempted to let him in, because who doesn’t love pizza, but I had to stop him at the door. This led to my being cursed out in vile, creative fashion, but hey, those are the rules. And really you should know that pizza is only acceptable at a wake if it’s for one of the Ninja Turtles or Kevin from Home Alone.

Drinking, death, (and sex) go hand in hand, but know your limits

A lot of people need a nip or two to get through a funeral. It’s stressful, and sure, you might want to take the edge off. DO NOT DRINK TOO MUCH. Too many times I’ve witnessed people puking all over the bathrooms here. Years from now, you never want to hear the question, “Hey, remember at grandma’s funeral when you did seven tequila shots back to back at dinner and vomited into a potted plant?”

Things can get even dicier when sex is added to alcohol — death and sex have long been connected in art and literature, a truth I see lived out more frequently than you might expect. I had a funeral for an older woman who had a granddaughter about my age. The granddaughter was involved in the funeral arrangements, and during the afternoon visitation, everything went smoothly. As she was leaving, she invited me to a bar to join her for drinks between sessions, but seeing as I had to work the night session of the wake, I declined.

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Well, when she got back from the bar she was bombed. Staggering all over the place, knocking a plant down, slurring her words. It was bad. She mentioned something about needing to talk to me, but I blew her off, chalking it up to buzzed babble. When she disappeared for a while and the ruckus seemed to die down, I decided to slip off to my office to decompress.

Once I turned the light on, I saw that she was in there, sleeping. I woke her up (more or less to make sure she wouldn’t vomit in there), and she immediately clung on to my chest, talking about “wanting to thank me.” That hand on my chest surely made its way down to my crotch, and she was not letting go, despite my protests.

At that point, I knew I had to get her out of my office and off of my crotch, since no good could come out of this situation. I started to steer her out of the office by her shoulders while she began kissing my neck, making it out into the hallway. Luckily, one of her cousins saw me and pulled her away, and someone drove her home after that. At her grandmother’s service the next morning she couldn’t look me in the eye. Only after the casket was lowered did she come up to me and apologize.

Funerals are times for mourning, not violent grudge matches

Emotions run high enough during funerals, so don’t make things worse by continuing old grudges or starting new ones. One bad exchange can set off a powder keg.

I witnessed two brothers squabble over money from the minute they came in to make arrangements. The morning of the funeral it reached its breaking point. What started as a loud argument in front of the casket progressed to a screaming match in the lobby.

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By the time I got to them I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing — each brother was holding an unplugged floor lamp like a lightsaber, circling each other. It took me a second to process everything, but when I finally spoke up to tell them how ridiculous the situation was, one them smacked the other over the back with the lamp (I do have to respect the opportunistic nature of that fella), which led to a quick skirmish on the floor. It broke up pretty quickly, but it was neither the time nor the place for it — the correct time and place would’ve been the ECW Arena in 1997 — and everybody left feeling pretty embarrassed.

If you’re not hammered, violent, or blatantly rule-breaking, most other requests are OK

On the other side of the coin, if you have a special request for your loved one, don’t be scared to speak up. One person wanted me to play Nirvana on the way to the cemetery because it was the deceased’s favorite band. “Oh, and one more thing — CRANK IT.” You bet your ass I did it. There wasn’t a cooler hearse in the world that day. It got some strange looks from the people we passed on the street, but whatever.

I’ve received requests to wear a Mets tie while doing a funeral, to pass someone’s favorite bar on the way to the cemetery, to lead an entire collection of people attending a funeral in singing The Golden Girls’ theme, pretty much anything you can imagine. Have I rolled my eyes at some of the requests? Absolutely. But you know what? When you see how much it means to the family, it makes it all worth it.

People don’t really want to talk about death or funerals, and yeah, funeral directing is a strange job. Having your mortality thrust in your face every day you go into work gives you a pretty unique outlook on life. I don’t particularly mind the job as a whole — I wish it were more 9-5, but hey, I get to help people, and that feels pretty good.

Complete Article HERE!

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06/27/16

Can You Die of Laughter?

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While laughter provides plenty of health benefits, laughing uncontrollably for a longer duration carries health risk for individuals with heart ailments.

healing experience

Laugh your way to good health. This is one piece of advice that often works in improving overall well-being. A good hearty laugh can work wonders in relieving stress. There is no better feeling than being with someone who makes you laugh. However, it appears that laughing too hard continuously may not be as good as it seems.

The British Medical Journal in its recent report highlights the ill-effects of excessive laughing in people suffering from various medical conditions. The research was carried out by University of Birmingham’s R. E. Ferner and Oxford University’s J. K. Aronson.

  • A normal laugh where there is no excessive sound is indeed good for the cardiovascular system. However, excessive laughter causes the blood pressure to increase substantially, putting too much pressure on the heart. A defective heart due to medical conditions like coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure (CHF) may not be able to handle such excessive pressure.
  • Intense laughter also increases the heart rate considerably, which patients with heart conditions are unlikely to tolerate for long. To put it simply, a faulty heart might not be able to sustain the increased heart rate associated with hard laughter.
  • Excessive laughter can also be fatal to people affected with cerebral aneurysm. Laughing out vigorously can considerably increase intracranial pressure (ICP refers to pressure inside the skull). This can cause the aneurysm to burst, which may lead to stroke. Even people with other neurological disorders are advised to avoid uncontrollable laughter to keep complications at bay.

Laughter-induced Asthma

  • People suffering from asthma should also stay away from laughing too hard. In one study, patients noticed that their symptoms laughing too hard(chest pain and coughing) worsened due to excessive laughing. However, it was observed that laughter-induced asthma wasn’t a case of medical emergency.
  • Also, the patients reported that when they can manage their asthma well, symptoms do not flare up when laughing for a longer duration. This means that exacerbation of symptoms due to laughter indicates that asthma is not being managed properly. Nevertheless, intense laughter may trigger asthma attacks. Hence, patients ought to take a cautionary approach when it comes to laughing loudly.
  • Laughing too hard also puts excessive strain on the chest muscles. Hence, people affected with respiratory conditions such as collapsed lung are often advised to avoid laughing loudly.

Laughter-induced Syncope

  • It is observed that intense laughter increases the breathing rate and when this continues for a longer duration, say for 10 to 15 minutes, it can be risky even to healthy individuals.
  • People have experienced shortness of breath during fits of laughter. There also have been reports of people losing their consciousness temporarily (for around 3 to 5 minutes); some have blacked out for a few seconds due to unrestrained laughter. Experts warn that excessive laughter tends to cause hyperventilation, which carries health risk but is unlikely to result in death.

A fit of hysterical laughter can also cause hernia to bulge out. Jaw trauma such as a dislocated jaw can also be one of the side effects of laughing too much. Excessive laughter is also responsible for triggering cataplexy, a condition that is marked by sudden temporary loss of muscle function.
Dr. Martin Samuels, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical, opines that extreme strong feelings related to sorrow or happiness stimulate an area of the brain corresponding to fight or flight response. During a fight or flight response, chemicals like adrenaline are released into the body. Too much of adrenaline can be detrimental to health, particularly the heart. So handling emotions (good or bad) in a better way is necessary to manage overall health.

Death from Laughter

  • There also have been confirmed reports of people laughing their way to death. In one instance, in 1989, Ole Bentzen, a Danish audiologist while watching a heist-comedy film A Fish Called Wanda went into uncontrollable fits of laughter. He began laughing so intensely that his heart started beating very fast and the heart rate was found to be fluctuating between 250 to 500 heartbeats per minute. This eventually caused cardiac arrest.
  • In another instance, in 1975, Alex Mitchell from England had uncontrollable fits of laughter while watching a television episode of Goodies, a popular British comedy series telecasted during the 1970s. He laughed hard non-stop for 25 minutes, which left him breathless due to severe heart failure. Later, it was found that Alex was a patient of long QT syndrome, a rare congenital heart disorder. This heart ailment may also have contributed to his death.

On the whole, experts say that contributory factors such as an underlying medical condition are likely to have played a role in causing deaths due to laughter. However, the fact remains that laughing too hard for long, although not fatal, can cause breathlessness.

Keep in mind that continuous fits of laughter can be risky but that doesn’t mean you should avoid laughing altogether. A good hearty laugh on a daily basis is in fact considered an elixir of life but make sure that the laughter-inducing moments do not leave you out of breath.

Complete Article HERE!

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